Thank you for your service, Chief Justice Zondo. Now it's up to many others to do their duty too.
Chief Justice Zondo and his team have done South Africa a great service. Now it is up to the many others – the law enforcement agencies, the professional oversight authorities, parliamentarians, business, civil society – to ensure that this comprehensive report is read, considered, and its recommendations implemented.
The State Capture Commission’s report should be the most well-read document in the country.
These last volumes are the report that lays bare the shame of our government, the ANC and our leaders. The ANC did not only allow patronage and corruption to spread, but actively encouraged and enabled it. Our former President Jacob Zuma was central to it and our current President did not do enough to stop it.
The Zondo report is a powerful and valuable tool for investigators and prosecutors, and is a salute to the whistleblowers and a detailed outing of the corrupt, but it is not the only work needed: there is more work ahead for both law enforcement and a range of others who must implement those recommendations.
We all want to see the orange overalls, but we know this may take time. The Commission’s task was to hold the inquiry and collect information. To simplify, we could compare this to a robbery. Before the Commission started, we knew there was a robbery. Now, with the Commission’s report, we know where the robbery took place and how it was carried out. The suspects are confirmed. We also know who the witnesses are. All this intelligence and information gathered by the Commission is now handed to the police, who should compile a docket, obtain the evidence, take the witness statements and identify the suspects, then hand the docket to a prosecutor who must decide if there is enough evidence to prosecute and if all formal and prescribed procedures were used to obtain the evidence and compile the docket. If there is a prima facie case and the prosecutor is satisfied, the suspects can be charged and the case started. Without the Commission’s work, the investigations would have had to have started from scratch with the robbery allegation. The Commission has saved the law enforcement agencies years of work, but they must now take it further.
The Commission has provided both reactive and proactive recommendations (these are summarised in the final volume, Part VI Volume IV). The reactive ones include the many recommendations to investigate and prosecute. But the proactive recommendations are crucial: these are the recommendations on which laws to change, which restructuring to do, which safeguards to build to block state capture. Many of those proactive recommendations require work and support from those outside law enforcement, ranging from Parliament (which disgraced itself, as is clear from the report) to professional oversight bodies and civil society.
We are all responsible for taking this report further.
This has been a long journey from Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report in 2016, through more than four years of public hearings and evidence gathering by the Zondo commission, to these mountains of evidence distilled into 17 volumes totalling more than 5 500 pages. The fightback by those implicated will continue to be fierce, and they have our stolen money to help them. We should not let this report go to waste.
Anyone who cares about governance and the future of this country should read this report. Be inspired by the whistleblowers and those who have invested so much to combat the scourge of state capture. Those who are in a position to implement the recommendations should step up and do it. We are watching you.
A soundclip with comment by OUTA's state capture expert Rudie Heyneke is here.
The State Capture Commission reports are available on the Presidency website here (under “Documents” at the bottom of the page) and on the Commission’s website here (under “Judgments”).